Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bitters Add Complexity and Dimension to Cocktails but Also Flavour Baking

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bitters Add Complexity and Dimension to Cocktails but Also Flavour Baking

Article excerpt

Bitters add complexity and dimension to a drink

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VICTORIA - Tradition is an important ingredient in a family business, and for Victoria Spirits, known for its gin, it is also part of their bitters.

In modern cocktails, bitters are known as the salt and pepper of a good drink and come in a range of flavours, including orange, lime and pear.

"Just a dash of bitters can change the character of a drink, adding new complexity and dimension," said Peter Hunt, master distiller at Victoria Spirits.

Hunt released the Victoria company's flagship product, Victoria Gin, in April 2008 with the help of the rest of the employees, who happen to be his sisters, brother-in-law, stepdad and mom.

"At the time there was a lot of cocktail culture going off in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada," said Hunt.

"A lot of people were making their own bitters including bartenders. We had access to alcohol and we were starting to see the revival of bitters. We thought we could do pretty good bitters too."

Bitters were introduced for their medicinal purposes such as treating seasickness, but eventually were added to cocktails as a way to dilute their pungent bitterness.

At Victoria Spirits, where they make a line of three bitters -- orange, black pepper and rosemary grapefruit -- they use the redistilled tails of their gin distillation combined with botanicals to give each their distinct flavour.

While the decision to include bitters among their products seemed natural, Hunt also sees it as part of a re-emergence of bitters in cocktails.

Bartenders aren't the only people using bitters in their recipes. Professional cooks like Hunt's sister Anna of Victoria's Charelli's and Co. began including them in her dishes after they started making them at the distillery.

She uses the orange bitters in baking such as pancakes, cookies and brownies and another flavour even made an appearance as part of their Mother's Day meal. …

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